Your government: Ardmore City Commission

What good is an elected representative at City Hall if they can’t just send someone out to fix that problem in your neighborhood? It turns out even a small town can get complex.

At a glance:

  • The City of Ardmore operates with an elected legislative commission, an appointed city manager, appointed department heads, and multiple city employees;
  • Five commissioners are elected by all residents, one at-large commissioner and one commissioner from each of the city’s four wards;
  • The commission is tasked with approving budgets, enacting laws, appointing a city manager and department heads, and other responsibilities laid out in the city charter;
  • Authority to direct city employees is not granted to commissioners but instead to the city manager
  • Commissioners serve staggered 3-year terms with annual elections in early April;
  • The Ardmore City Commission holds regular public meetings on the first and third Monday of each month.

Carter County may be mostly rural, but the gears of government can begin to get complex when it comes to the number of moving parts it takes to operate a city that is home to about half of the county. Boards and commissions exist to further operate parks, public works, and historic preservation; an entire criminal justice system must exist to include a police force and court system; an army of city employees keep the water on, streets safe, trash picked up, and bills paid.

Overseeing it all is the Ardmore City Commission, a five-member body with rotating elections every year, and an appointed city manager along withmultiple department heads. The commission operates as a legislative body with specific duties laid out by the city charter, while the city manager directs day-to-day operations.

According to the city charter, the commission has ten important jobs that include enacting laws pertaining to the city and appoint a city manager. The city manager is the executive of all city departments, including hiring and firing of employees and proposing annual city budgets. 

Some other important jobs of the commission include approval of most fiscal affairs including annual budgets, appoint people to various city boards, and investigate municipal affairs. While commissioners have legislative power, they do not have direct executive authority over municipal workers. Only the city manager can direct administrative personnel and city employees. 

Residents have two commissioners who serve as their elected representative. All commissioners are elected by all the voters in Ardmore, but only one seat is considered at-large. Four seats represent each of the city’s four wards, so each of those commissioners must live in the ward they represent. The whole commission is made up of five people who serve staggered 3-year terms.

Every November, the commission will call for an election that will tell voters and potential candidates when to file and when to vote. Candidate filing is for a few days in early February, and the elections are in early April. The winner(s) begin their term at the first meeting in May.

On the first day of each annual term, the five commissioners elect a mayor and vice-mayor to each serve a one-year term. That hierarchy helps things run smoothly for the rest of the year whenever there is a quorum–legalese for when three or more commissioners are around each other. 

The Ardmore City Commission holds regular public meetings on the first and third Monday of each month except holidays. Meetings begin at 7 p.m. on the third floor of City Hall and agendas are available on the city’s website, https://www.ardmorecity.org/, ahead of the meetings.